Disclaimer: Not mine; no money; am poor.
AN: This was the first fic I wrote back from my loooong hiatus. It was originally written about a year ago, prior to the first fic I published. I was too scared to post it, as I thought it was way too silly. I rewrote over half of it today, and while it's still completely fluffy, I do think it's fun. Just fyi.
It was hard for him to say; it always had been. The last woman Snape had said it to was his mother, and the last time he had said it to her, he had been ten years old. He had almost said it to Lily… but that dream had been made impossible the fateful day he called her a Mudblood.
He had most certainly never said it to Hermione.
It's not as if he didn't feel it. He felt it for her more than anyone before. It was bad enough that his brain mocked him with it constantly, but to voice it would ruin the persona he had spent so many years cultivating.
Hermione had been with Snape for five years now. After leaving Hogwarts and completing her university education, she had returned to Hogsmeade to open a school for magical children. Her school combined Muggle and magical learning, and it was her hope that she could help change in some small way the anti-Muggle sentiments that had fueled both of the Dark Wars. Both Muggleborn and Magicborn students were admitted to the school, and so far the experiment was showing promise.
Snape had encountered his former student at the Leaky Cauldron a few weeks into that first school year, and that day was when it all began.
~~Five Years Earlier~~
Hermione, Harry, and Ron had been drinking at the Leaky Cauldron for a few hours, when Snape stalked in during the early evening and found himself a quiet booth in a dark corner. Ron looked gobsmacked before turning to the others.
"I guess Snape's found some dark rafters to roost in, eh? Funny, I always thought bats were nocturnal," Ron remarked, swaying on his barstool. Hermione began to giggle then fell off her barstool. Before the boys could stop her, she righted herself and went to Snape's booth.
Snape was seated with his head down, staring into his glass, a common practice when he drank. Albus had once asked him if he was looking for the secrets of the universe in his glass. Snape had responded that no, he was in fact trying to figure out the volume of alcohol necessary make Albus shut up. In all honestly, he looked into his glasses of whisky because he found the refraction of light through the amber liquid to be, well, magical. And as much as he hated to admit it, he wished Albus were here today to ask him the same question. He sighed, remembering that it was his own damned fault that Albus wasn't with him now.
A thud across the table alerted Snape to her presence.
"So, Professor Snape, what's a bar like you... doing in a bat like this?" she slurred.
Snape looked up and snorted. Granger, elbows on the table and chin cradled in her hands, was completely shnockered. He hadn't seen her since she'd graduated, and she had changed significantly. Her once-bushy hair was now cut short, framing her face in tight ringlets. Probably should buy some stock in Sleekeazy's, as that's the only thing that could tame that mess she called hair. She wore a scant amount of makeup, but she wore it well. Her clothing was Muggle and fit her far too well in all the right places.
"Oh, just waiting for an unsuspecting young woman such as yourself to grace me with her presence, so I can dine on her blood for my evening meal," he replied smugly.
"Oh come off it, we know you're not a vampire. We all were there while you stood outside in broad daylight during the Final Battle," she said, grinning lopsidedly.
"SPF 5000, m'dear. And a Sunglasses charm," he said, quirking his lip up into the closest thing Hermione had ever seen to him smiling. For some reason, she amused him. He didn't dare contemplate why.
"Since when're you allowed to be funny, sir?" Her eyes unfocused before her head slipped from her fingers. Forehead coming to rest on the table, she began to snore softly.
Sighing, Snape pulled out his wallet and placed the appropriate amount of money for his drinks on the table. He lifted her from her bench and carried her towards Ron and Harry.
"What are you doing to her, Snape? Get your hands off her at once!" Harry yelled, brandishing his wand as inefficiently as Sir Cadogan. Hermione mumbled something that sounded awfully like "'s Professor, not just 'Snape.'" Snape grinned.
Unfortunately for Harry, he was seeing at least three Snapes before him, and he was pointing his wand at the wrong one. As Snape surveyed at Ron, he realized that Ron wasn't any more sober than Harry. Casting a nonverbal hex that knocked them back into their seats, Snape sneered at the boys and proceeded to carry Hermione out of the bar.
Once outside, he shook her slightly and asked her where she lived.
"Up the street. End of the cul-de-sac. Pink house. Fence." Securing her arms around his neck, she snuggled into his shoulder.
Snape eventually found her home and lay her gently on the stoop. Her wards were impressive, if not a little excessive, and he needed both hands to dismantle them. Upon opening the door, he was greeted by a cheery foyer with a hallway leading down the center of the house. He retrieved Hermione and carried her up the stairs to her bedroom. He placed her gently under the blankets, and casting a divestment charm, spelling her clothes into a neatly folded pile on her bedside table.
"Silly girl," he whispered as he drew the blankets up more snugly under her chin. «If only I'd been their earlier, we could have had a proper night.»
"'S not too late, P'rfess'r. Gimme one of your potions, and we could talk. Always wanted to ask you to take me flying. Like Lois and Superman." She giggled softly before turning over and burrowing down into her pillows.
He smiled. For some reason, this witch amused him far more than her little witchlet self ever had. He went downstairs and Flooed to his dungeons. Quickly procuring a quill and some parchment, and what he assumed would be a much needed hangover potion, he wrote her a short note before returning to her home, leaving both the note and the hangover potion on the kitchen table. Leaving it in her bedroom would be too easy, and frankly, after carrying her all over Hogsmeade, he figured he had been "nice" enough for one day. He smirked at the note, knowing it would drive her mad the next morning.
Hermione awoke to the feeling of cats fighting inside her skull. She panicked, not remembering how she got home or why she was nude. She shrugged it off quickly, assuming the boys had brought her home and had cast an strong undressing charm, as clearly neither of them could have folded her clothes that effectively without the use of magic. She went to the bathroom, washed her face, then stumbled downstairs to brew a hangover potion.
Sitting on her kitchen table was the note, along with the potion. She grabbed the note, not believing the handwriting she saw; the handwriting that had mocked her best essays for seven long years.
It was with great sadness that the Vampire of your Dreams left you last night. I am sorry I was not able to stay, as it would not have been considered proper etiquette after a first date. I'm sure you'll understand. Please use this potion if you feel it necessary. I will return to your home at seven p.m. tonight to escort you on our second outing. If you stay sober this time, I may be convinced to kiss you.
PS: Be dressed for the opera.
Hermione was shaking so badly that the parchment fell from her hand. Date? Had she actually ended up on a date with Professor Snape the night before? What was this badly veiled Superman shite all about anyways? She had been well into her cups by the time he walked into the Leaky Cauldron the night before, and all her memories from after that moment were a bit fuzzy. She drank the remedy in one large gulp, hoping to clear her mind and make more sense of the situation, but nothing more came to her.
"Well," she said, looking at Crookshanks, "I might as well go and find out what I did last night and apologize if necessary."
Her familiar gave her a look indicating that the latter was highly likely.
It hadn't been the most romantic beginning to a relationship. In fact, for years, Snape mocked her about their "first" date. Hermione always responded that she had found the opera to be lovely and that frankly she had no idea what he was mocking her for. He usually smiled and kissed her.
~~Five Years Later~~
Hermione and Severus sat in their breakfast nook drinking coffee. Snape was creating a test for his NEWT-level potions students, and Hermione was reading some legal documents concerning the rights of non-human magical beings. Hermione looked up from her reading and began to stare at him quizzically. He finally put down his quill and looked at her, his left eyebrow slightly raised.
"Why is it so hard for you to tell me you love me?" Hermione enquired. She immediately regretted her words, as she had not meant to say them aloud.
Snape was taken aback. While he was aware that she fixated on this subject (she always failed to lower her voice when she and her friends had "girl nights" in their living room), she had never asked him this question directly. He was blindsided by the question, a question he never thought he would have to answer, and for the first time in many years, he sat sputtering, searching for any words other than the three she wanted so desperately to hear. As he was searching for something to say, Hermione interrupted his train of thought.
"Don't tell me it's because it would make you weak. If that were the case, you wouldn't take the time to show me that you love me, something you do daily. And don't tell me it's because no one has ever loved you before and you're scared, because you've had five years to get over that." She paused, as if searching for words.
"It's hard when you don't tell me how you feel, Severus. It makes me doubt myself. Sometimes I wonder if you want to break up with me but feel too guilty to do it after all this time."
He had to get out of this nightmare of a situation and fast. Trying to diffuse the situation, he did what he always fell back on in these situations, and replied with heavy-handed sarcasm.
"Please, Hermione, I don't usually fuck people I don't like. Well… unless I'm single. And they're hot. Or available. And there was that one time the Dark Lord told me to…" he rambled on, stifling a chuckle.
Hermione looked at him with a mixture of shock and hurt. He immediately realized he'd crossed a line and started to backtrack quickly.
"Oh, give over, Hermione. You know I was just teasing."
But Hermione had stopped listening after the words "Dark Lord told me to" and was already throwing on her cloak and grabbing her wand.
"Don't wait up, Severus," she screamed over her shoulder. "Human beings die after eleven days without sleep, and I would feel terrible if you actually killed yourself over someone you don't love." With a flash of Floo powder, she shouted her destination and in seconds, she was gone.
This was it. He had lost her. Early in their relationship, Hermione had established two major ground rules: the first, always leave open lines of communication, and the second, never go to bed angry at the other.
Through the course of the following years, it was always she who had to remind him of these rules. She had never stormed out during a fight, and she had never threatened not to come home before bed. In five years, they had slept apart only once, and it was the worst night of sleep he had endured since the Dark Lord had been vanquished. He knew he was selfish, but he needed her back before bedtime. He sunk to the floor in front of the fireplace and stared into the dwindling green flames.
Hermione entered the Burrow in a flurry of ashes, and before Molly could ask her what on earth she was doing bursting in so early, she threw another handful into the fireplace and shouted "Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes!" She doubted very much that he would think to look for her at George's flat. She also knew that in any fight, Molly would keep information from Severus until Hermione had told her what was going on. Hermione figured she had at least a day to herself before he stormed in and demanded she return.
She fell from the fireplace into the shop, coughing and wheezing. George immediately rushed from behind the counter, where he had been getting the till ready before opening the store.
"What are you doing here, Hermione?" he chuckled. "Did Snape finally realize he was dating a ex-student and kick you out?"
She glared up at him with the look that was normally reserved for abusers of house-elves. She righted herself before responding.
"Severus and I had an argument, and I just needed to get out of the dungeons. Do you mind if I stay here for a few days?"
"Of course not, Hermione," George replied, "Stay as long as you need. The password to the flat is 'dishwasher.' I'll see you after work." He escorted her to the stairs before giving her an apologetic hug and hurrying back to open the shop.
She recited the password, the portrait door swung open, and Hermione ascended the stairs. George had very much inherited a love of all things Muggle from his father, and the living room was full of electronic and music equipment and video games. She turned on the television and sat on the couch, feeling completely numb. She knew it had been a mistake to push Severus so strongly; she hadn't even meant to ask him her question out loud. But honestly, his inability to tell her something that she saw as vital to a successful adult relationship had been weighing on her, now more then ever. She had been keeping the fact that she was pregnant from Severus for three months now. How could she tell a man, who couldn't even admit his love to her, that their love had produced a child? Before long, she was crying silently, tears pouring down her face. She lay down on the couch and the sounds of trashy daytime telly lulled her to sleep.
She awoke hours later to the sound of someone coming up the stairs. The door opened and George, Ron, and Harry burst in. Ron was carrying a bar of Honeydukes' finest dark chocolate, and Harry was carrying two bottles of red wine. George immediately came to the couch to hug her, while Ron and Harry went to the kitchen to prepare Hermione's stress feast. Ron and Harry returned to the living room, placed the chocolate in front of her and a large glass of wine in her hand, clicked off the television, and sat opposite her on the floor.
"Now, tell us what happened, love," George asked gently.
Hermione launched into her story, telling them between bites of chocolate and sips of wine that Severus had never in five years said he loved her. She told them that she had asked him why he never said it, and that he had responded by being insensitive. The latter resulted in Ron asking her if she was surprised, Hermione responded by hexing a piece of chocolate up Ron's nose. She cried throughout most of her sorry tale and ended the story by wiping her nose with George's sleeve.
"Come on," George smiled, "go to the bathroom and draw a bath, Hermione. Because honestly, after all this crying, you look a fright. Come back out when you're done, and we'll come up with a plan."
Hermione was happy for the opportunity to excuse herself. Now wasn't the the time to tell the boys why she shouldn't be drinking, and the Synthehol charm only worked within the first hour after imbibing spirits.
As Hermione retreated to the bathroom, Ron let out an enormous sigh. "So, what are we going to do, lads?"
"Well, we have to distract her, if nothing else," Harry offered. This was standard for Harry. "Always distract crying girls" was his motto. Harry could not handle it when girls cried.
"And how do we do that?" Ron asked.
The three men sat and looked around the room. "Well, we could always take her to a bookshop and buy her whatever she wants," George answered.
"Except even I don't have that much money," Harry said, grinning. "Thought I've always like the idea of owning a shop. If I bought her a bookshop, she might never be upset again!"
"Well, what about something here? Like a movie or a video game? 'Die Hard' always works when I'm angry with a girl."
"Somehow I don't think 'Die Hard' works with girls, Ron," Harry answered. "Then again, Hermione isn't your normal sort of girl. Maybe watching shit blow up will make her feel better!"
"I have an idea," George said. "Girls always feel better when we make fools of ourselves. I just bought a new game that should do just that." George rose from the couch and pulled a box from behind it, with the logo "RockBand" on the front.
"Oh no, hell no, no, absolutely not!" Harry yelled. "This is too much shame even for me. I'm the Boy Who Lived, not the Boy Who Sung!"
"Then you'll be the Boy who Drummed, Harry," said Ron. "Besides, George says it will make Hermione happy, so we'll try it!"
The boys set to work, transforming the living room into a small stage. Ron was completely useless at setting up equipment, and his inability to use Muggle products did nothing to help the anger he felt towards Snape for hurting Hermione; he decided he could best be productive by talking to the man himself. He had to make sure his anger towards Snape was justified and that there wasn't more to this than Hermione was saying.
"I'll be right back," he said. "I've got something to ask Snape."
Harry and George looked up at Ron with interest. Ron usually avoided Snape like the plague. The fact that Ron was willing to storm into Snape's dungeons for the first time since his last Potions class meant that Ron was truly angry.
Ron approached the fireplace, and throwing a handful of Floo powder in, yelled "Severus Snape's Rooms!"
He emerged from Snape's fireplace, eyes flashing with anger. He nearly tripped over the very man.
"What the fuck is wrong with you!" Ron screamed at the man collapsed on the floor.
"I'm an idiot," Snape responded quietly.
This was not the answer Ron was expecting. Ron had an entire speech prepared about how lucky Snape was to have Hermione, and how Snape was a fool, and how if Snape didn't fix this right away, that he would be forced in good conscience to kill Snape. His simple response took all of the wind out of Ron's sails. He sat on the floor and looked at Snape hard.
"So what are we going to do to fix this, Snape?"
"We? Well at this point, I'm sure you and Harry have come up with some sort of plan to make her happy, or if nothing else to distract her. You've probably already given her massive quantities of chocolate, and she's probably pretty tipsy on some Cabernet, am I right?"
Ron grinned. He and Harry may be predictable, but predictable also meant reliable, and he was damned proud of his ability to always be there for his friends. Feeling pity for the poor man, Ron explained his newly thought out plan to Snape.
"So let me get this straight, Weasley. You expect me to come to your brother's flat and sing karaoke to Hermione, thereby making a fool of myself, in the hope that she will be so amused and so overwhelmed with pity for me that she will come home?"
"Something like that. You can sing something that's not in Mermish, can't you Snape?" Ron asked.
Snape nearly had to bite his tongue. Of course he could sing. It was a required part of all of Lucius Malfoy's soirees. Malfoy had a soft spot in that dead heart of his for The Beatles, a secret he had kept as carefully guarded from the Dark Lord as Snape had kept Harry's whereabouts in the Forest of Dean secret. Furthermore, Malfoy had made all of the Death Eaters swear a wand oath to keep its secrecy. Malfoy had explained it off by saying he had once heard that the Beatles were actually a group of Pureblood squibs. Well, except for George Harrison. No one could argue that he wasn't magical.
Snape sighed. "Yes, I can sing, Weasley. Got anything by the Beatles?"
"Absolutely! Disillusion yourself and come with me."
Ron returned to George's flat and quickly recounted the situation to the other men and explained to them his plan. By the time Hermione returned from the bathroom, the game was set up, and the boys were in their respective positions: Harry on drums, Ron on bass, George on guitar, and Snape disillusioned in the corner of the living room.
Hermione walked into the room, wearing flannel pajamas that did nothing for her figure, her hair slightly dripping and her cheeks pink from the warm water. She surveyed the game equipment, and blinking forcefully, fixed her gaze upon George.
"Well I hope you weren't planning on me singing, George, as it's never going to happen."
"Then allow me." Snape ended the Disillusionment charm on himself, walked to the center of their makeshift stage, and slowly picked up the microphone. Hermione mouth opened in shock, knowing just how much Severus hated making a fool of himself in public. Not that the man had anything to worry about, because he could definitely sing. However, his singing generally was limited to the shower (when he thought she was at work) and the kitchen (when he thought she wasn't listening). And of course, to Malfoy's drawing room (which she didn't actually know herself; wand oaths are like that).
"This song goes out to… to the one I love." Snape annunciated the last words slowly, as if saying them with great difficulty. With that said, he began to sing.
Though you've gone away this morning
You'll be back again tonight
Telling me there'll be no next time
If I don't just don't treat you right
You'll never leave me and you know it's true
Cause you like me too much and I like you
Hermione tried to glare at him but began to giggle.
You've tried before to leave me
But you haven't got the nerve
To walk out and make me lonely
Which is all that I deserve
You'll never leave me and you know it's true
Cause you like me too much and I like you
Ron and George approached the microphone and helped with the harmony bit. Harry was giving the drums more gusto than Ringo Starr ever had.
I really do, and it's nice when you believe me
If you leave me
I will follow you and bring you back where you belong
Cause I couldn't really stand it
I admit that I was wrong
I wouldn't let you leave me cause it's true
Cause you like me too much and I like you
Snape suffered through the rest of the song. By the end, Hermione was somewhere between giggling and crying. He looked at her with a mixture of fear and amusement, praying that his efforts had not been in vain.
"You'd better like me, you daft git, or else I won't let you get a choice in naming our baby!"
"I knew there was something she wasn't telling us," Ron whispered to no one in particular.
Snape was at her side in an instant, cradling her face in his hands.
"Truly?" he asked, looking her directly in the eyes. "We're having a baby?"
She nodded slowly, her eyes brimming over with tears.
"I love you," he said, wiping the tears from her eyes and kissing her softly.
And, as always, when either a woman was crying, or when situations got too emotionally tense for him to handle, both of which were threatening to overload his brain, Harry broke the mood.
"WOMAAAN! WOMAAAN!" he screamed, banging on the drums and flailing his arms over his head.
AN: The ending of this story is brought to you courtesy of the Muppet show. The lyrics to "You Like Me Too Much" belong to George Harrison. This story was betaed by my wonderful friend, neelix, who put up with this noob with amazing kindness and grace.